, Derry, New Hampshire

October 11, 2012

Residents still weigh options over Adams dam

By Julie Huss
Derry News

---- — DERRY — Emotions still run high over the fate of a dam on historic waters in town.

As the Town Council gets closer to deciding what to do about Adams Pond dam, residents are still torn about the possible outcome.

A public hearing Oct. 2 brought out residents to speak their minds about the future of the dam and the pond nearby.

Developer Jean Gagnon of Londonderry owns the dam. He is currently building a new subdivision on 85 acres around the 25-acre pond.

The state lists Gagnon’s dam as a failing structure and issued a letter of deficiency last year.

The town now has an opportunity to acquire the dam from Gagnon. The deed transfer would include property for a future parking lot area to give access to the pond.

“The concrete structure itself is in pretty tough shape and would have to be addressed,” Public Works Director Mike Fowler said.

If the town accepts the deed, it will have to choose among several options.

Those options include a full dam replacement, estimated at $150,000; removing the dam, $20,000; or removing and rebuilding the structure on a smaller scale, $75,000 to $150,000.

The town is far from making a decisions, Fowler said, as studies and analysis work would need to be done.

Conservation Chairwoman Margaret Ives does not want to lose the dam.

“I’m not in favor of dam removal,” she said. “We’ve had a very dry summer, the pond is the lowest I’ve seen it in years. The pond does have historical value and I hope we can save it.”

An early sawmill at Adams Pond owned by Elder David Cargill dates back to around 1719.

“The dam site has historical meaning to this town,” town historian Richard Holmes said. “It’s older than this town is.”

Holmes called the Adams property one of the most beautiful spots in Derry.

Others said they loved the pond, but it wasn’t up to the town to take on Gagnon’s responsibilities for the failing dam.

“The taxpayers of Derry should not be responsible for paying for Mr. Gagnon’s dam,” Redfield Estates resident Janet Wetherbee said.

As Gagnon builds his new homes near the pond, she said, the new homeowners should bear the brunt of the dam costs.

Kelly Martin said she appreciated the emotional response to the dam’s future but more information is needed.

“It’s in the developer’s best interests to retain those scenic views,” she said. “This is a private matter and not one the taxpayers of Derry need to resolve and certainly not pay for it.”

Ellie Sarcione said it’s time for the town to take over the dam and save the pond.

“Save the dam, save the pond,” she said. “This is worth it to all of us.”

The council may vote on the dam issue at its Oct. 16 meeting, when the full board will be in attendance.

A public hearing brought out residents for for and against the town taking control of the Adams Pond dam. The dam is currently owned by Londonderry developer Jean Gagnon and is listed as failing by the state.